Judgment: Verbatim Adoption of Proposed Judgment

Bishop v. Bishop, ___ So. 3d ___, 35 Fla. L. Weekly D2147 (Fla. 2d DCA 9/29/10)

The appellate court reversed a final judgment of dissolution of marriage because the trial judge adopted verbatim the proposed judgment submitted by the husband, and the circumstances created the appearance that the judgment did not reflect the judge’s independent decision-making.  (1) “The trial court made no oral rulings and provided no direction to the parties regarding the findings and conclusions to be included in the proposed judgments.” (2) “One month after the final hearing, and without the benefit of a transcript of hearing, the trial court adopted, verbatim, the final judgment submitted by the Husband, which consisted of seventeen pages of findings and conclusions of law together with the Husband’s proposed equitable distribution schedule and child support worksheet.” (3) “[T]he final judgment contains errors and omissions which create the appearance that the trial court did not engage in independent decision-making.”